“I am not what you think I am.”
The paranormal brothers Allan and Joseph Carmichael looked at each other and then back to the apparition in front if them. A rather attractive lady wearing a late Victorian two layered bustle skirt with matching ruched blouse. Being of spectral extraction the colour was indeterminate and limited to transparent white on the basis the woman herself was not as solid as the corporeal investigators.
It was Allan that spoke up first.
“What is it you think we think you are?”
Owing to dryness of throat, this came out as more of a weak rasp despite efforts to whip up saliva and lubricate the vocal chords. Joseph, the taller of the two, by some two inches, at just under 6ft shook his head in disgust.
“Way to show confidence Al” he whispered from the corner of his mouth in a poor attempt at ventriloquy. It was not unnoticed by the shade who smiled demurely and floated towards them.
“I think you think that I am a ghost.”
Despite the ethereal aspect, her words were solid enough. Softly spoken with an element of authority.
Allan dropped the hammer he’d used to pry of the boards covering the front door of the old Hamilton place across the street from where they had kept vigil since hearing about the potential for psychic phenomena. It struck the floor with a resounding dead thump that caused the revenant to shy away. A hammer had been used here before except then Allan had been a Jonathan. Joseph watched his temperature gauge plummet to just about fridge temperature and noticed his breath beginning to fog in the air at each exhalation. Why do we always do this in the middle of the damn night? Nerves were beginning to jangle internal warning bells. The moon, being almost full, was not helping matters by poking eerie fingers of light through gaps in the shreds of old drapes; illuminating the inside enough to reveal the cringing shadows probably held secrets. Through the shimmering lady he could see the outline of, what was once, a grand staircase leading upwards.
“But you are a ghost surely. This place has been derelict for years and is a prime site for our research into…well, ghosts.”
The woman drew closer gesticulating towards the entrance door behind them.
“I rather think that depends on your perspective. To me you are the apparitions that have just walked through my front door.”
Allan looked back following the line of her pointing trying not to shiver. His insides suddenly felt quite nauseous. A none subtle elbow caught Joseph in the ribs causing him to slowly follow the direction his brother’s open mouth was gaping at.
“Oh crap” was all he could manage. The boards Allan had hacked through with the hammer were back up on the inside and covering the front door. More to the point, there was a pool of dark liquid surrounding the head of the very same implement that had been cast to the floor. Despite the poor lighting neither brother considered it to be anything other than blood.
Allan pulled his brother to one side. The shade remained near staircase.
“Time to beat a hasty retreat Jo. I’ve got a real bad feeling about this.”
Joseph eyed his brother followed by a quick look back at the woman.
His voice, barely audible whispered, “Give it five more minutes and make sure you’re recording this too.”
Both were equipped with a couple of hidden cameras. One infrared and one visible; unbeknown to either of them all of them were busy storing video footage of an empty house.
“Your call Jo, but I now hold you entirely responsible for our untimely demise.” There was a resigned feel to Allan’s voice.
Joseph turned back to the woman and took a step forwards feigning confidence.
“So who are you then?”
The lady gave him an eerie smile.
“Elisabeth Beechworth some might say.”
Some might say? He thought, what’s that supposed to mean?
Allan carried it on, “what year is it?”
“1875 clearly” was the surprised reply, “why what year is it by your calculations?”
Joseph cocked his head, “2000, or at least it was when we came in here.” He paused slightly before continuing, “what do you mean by some might say?”
Elisabeth’s aura sharpened briefly revealing facial features that caused Allan to stare. “I am many things in many times. In this place I am Elisabeth.”
The brothers looked at each other.
“Roll with it?” Mouthed Allan, Joseph nodded consent before carrying on talking to the spectre.
“And you are not a ghost you say?”
Elisabeth exuded confidence, “absolutely not.”
Allan chipped in, “and you are saying that we, in fact, are?”
She produced the captivating smile again. “Consider, if it is 1875 and I am right it would infer you have yet to be conceived. By my reckoning you are therefore from the future and have made a grievous mistake by coming into my home.”
Joseph was now feeling seriously unsettled. Five minutes must be up, time to leave. He shuffled backwards leaving Allan in discourse with the ghost that wasn’t. He turned to try and remove the boarding that had somehow self assembled back into the doorframe when they first encountered Elisabeth. His stomach fell towards the floor as he watched his own hands encounter an unseen wall that prevented him actually reaching the wood. Wafer thin. He could slide up and down the outer edges of the planks but not get any purchase. In controlled but rising panic he ran to the window and found these were similarly barred. Time appeared to slow down as he turned back toward the staircase. There was no doubt his physician would have much to say about both current heart rate and blood pressure.
Allan meantime was deep in conversation and things were going from slightly wrong into fingers in ears not listening, blah blah blah.
“By similar argument if it is 1875 then you are long dead being the victim of a house fire this very year.”
Elisabeth remained unperturbed.
“That may be so, but given you cannot pass out of this house,” she nodded towards Joseph scrabbling unsuccessfully at the window, “I will wager it is more likely you, not I, that has passed on.
There was a shrill shout in his direction from the adjoining room.
“Al, I can’t find a way to get out!”
Elisabeth smiled once more; except it looked smug and unwholesome.
“Tell me, have you ever been to the room upstairs?”
Joseph was back, out of breath with impact bruises on his knuckles caused by angry pounding on wall that simply should not be there.
“Which one?” He managed to ask between gasps. The cold air was really biting now.
She turned to face him directly. Somehow her eyes were now filled with both fire and ice.
“Top of the stairs, directly in front of you.”
Allan turned to his brother. Despite the cold he was suddenly rather clammy. Two days previous they had done a daytime exploration. Testing the way in and wandering up the dusty stairs taking a peak into a room and noting how out of time it looked.
“Errr, maybe…” he said.